Cierra Chubb gave birth to a healthy son on July 26, days after testing positive for COVID-19.
The mother of three is now in a medically induced coma, fighting to hold her newborn baby once again.
"I feel like I'm gonna wake up and roll over and tell her that you won't believe the dream I had last night," Jamal Chubb, Cierra's husband, told USA TODAY. "But in reality what I need most now is some hope and prayer."
On July 12, their oldest daughter came home from a sports camp with a headache, cough and fever. To comfort her daughter, Cierra crawled into bed with her. Two days later, Cierra started exhibiting similar symptoms and later tested positive for COVID-19.
On July 24, Cierra's 33rd birthday, Jamal said she experienced labored and heavy breathing. He drove her to a hospital in Columbia, South Carolina. Two days later, the mother and unborn baby were experiencing distress and trouble breathing. So, Cierra gave birth via an emergency cesarean section at 33 weeks, Jamal said.
"This was the first time in our marriage I wasn't in the room when she gave birth. I couldn't find anyone to watch our children," Jamal said. "That in itself was so hard."
Baby Miles was born healthy at 5 pounds, COVID-19 free and is at home. However Cierra's health worsened, and she was placed in the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. Jamal was only able to spend a day and a half in the hospital with Cierra and Miles.
Days after giving birth, doctors told Jamal that Cierra's breathing had dropped significantly and she would be placed on a ventilator.
"I get a phone call from the hospital asking me about Cierra's last wishes. Five hours later, they say I don't think she's gonna make it through the night," Jamal said.
Fortunately, she did make it through that night.
As of today, Cierra remains in a medically induced coma, and her doctors are hopeful she will be weaned off the ventilator soon, Jamal said. He credits his military background in the Navy for maintaining his sanity as he wakes up each morning without his wife of 12 years.
Jamal said he is focused on his mission – caring for his children and praying for Cierra.
COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy among pregnant women
Jamal said he hopes Cierra's story sheds light on the importance of COVID-19 vaccinations. While Jamal is fully vaccinated, Cierra was not before she gave birth. Her plan was to receive the COVID-19 vaccine after she had Miles.
Cierra held off getting vaccinated out of concerns for the unborn child's health. Despite her current condition, Jamal stands by her decision but urges all other Americans to get vaccinated if they can.
"Although only maybe 2% of people die from COVID-19, that 2% is still 100% of someone's world," Jamal said. "So weigh the risks when thinking of getting vaccinated."
As of Thursday, the COVID-19 mortality rate in the United States is at 1.7%, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Dr. Ebony Carter, a maternal-fetal medicine physician, said most expecting mothers are nervous to do anything to harm their baby, including getting vaccinated.
Carter said the majority of her patients believe the potential risks associated with the COVID-19 vaccine are greater than the risk of the disease itself.
"The concern is understandable but after the second dose of the vaccine, you may experience a fever and some mild symptoms. But if you're unvaccinated and get COVID-19, especially this delta variant, you could end up intubated," Carter, who works at Washington University Physicians and Barnes-Jewish Center for Outpatient Health, told USA TODAY.
Since December, Carter said there have been over 50,000 pregnant patients vaccinated and none have reported an increased risk of preterm birth, miscarriage, or health risks. She also said expecting mothers' immune systems are lowered, increasing their risk for hospitalization if they contract COVID-19.
The risk of death and intubation is "increased threefold" for pregnant women, Carter said.
She urges all patients, including pregnant women, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine so they can prevent serious illness.
"I'm usually more balanced with my medical advice, but with everything I've seen in the hospital and with patients during the pandemic, I feel a sense of urgency to tell people to get vaccinated," Carter said.
Carter's patient, Larhonda Rhodes came into her Thursday appointment adamant that she would not receive the COVID-19 vaccine. Rhodes, who is 28 weeks pregnant, said she was hesitant to put anything in her body that may affect her baby.
She said she's heard varying information about risks associated with the vaccine, which was mostly combated once she spoke to Carter.
"Hearing Dr. Carter's information gave me a different outlook on the vaccine because getting it might actually be best for my baby in the end," Rhodes told USA TODAY.
A new community
Since Cierra was admitted into the ICU, Jamal has documented his family's journey on social media and TikTok. Family and friends wanted updates on Cierra's condition, and Jamal said it was easier to make videos. His TikToks have since become a large support group for the Chubb family.
His videos have received thousands of likes, comments and support as people root for Cierra's recovery. Almost every day, Jamal creates a video including an update on Cierra, baby Miles and his own mental state. Jamal said TikTok gave him an outlet to express his emotions and find a community when he needed it most.
A GoFundMe created for the family has received over $76,00 dollars and internet support has brought back hope into Jamal's life, he said. He's asked all his followers and those who read their story to pray and think of Cierra's recovery.
"I don't feel like I'm necessarily doing this alone. I feel like people are invested in what's happening," Jamal said. "That's what I need more than anything right now is hope and faith until she's home."
Follow Gabriela Miranda on Twitter: @itsgabbymiranda
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Unvaccinated mom with COVID gives birth, then goes on ventilator in SC